Something was wrong with Alice. In the beginning, I couldn't decipher whether she was dreaming or crazy. The first chapter had me confused with the constant back-and-forth notion―but that is usually the way it feels with Alzheimer's.
The chair was a tombstone of cherished memories and forgotten lives. It was the thing that always provided John with comfort and pensive sorrow. Lately, he has been sitting for long hours, quietly rocking in a paralyzed state with his mind full of worry and fear over the disease that has been taking his beloved Alice away. It was stated simply that "[Alice] had become an apparition in the flesh, a ghost locked within the familiar frame." (25)
The story was nothing but memories that get dragged out by every member of the family and play on the minds like a broken record. Each section was recited in the POV of every main character, each one bringing one more demonic skeleton out of the closet that wrecked havoc on the emotions. The book was mainly a typhoon of emotions circling around the Alzheimer's, the war, and loss.
To think that family was the magical cure for life's problems was kind of naive. However, I liked how each character's flaws were rendered with emphatic resonance and frail honesty. Big John's barnyard lessons were cleverly correlated with the kids' problems. Suddenly it was up to Big John to fix them all like if he was Jesus or something, which was probably why there was a lot of praying in the story.
Ultimately, this story was all about getting over loss and heart ache―in other words, "to get back on the horse." Manchester's words painted a vibrant picture of the dirt-slappin', fly-swattin' country farm life of Montana. However, his descriptions of emotions might have been a tad too "fruity" for my taste. Now I get the Nicholas Sparks reference.